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Why Structure Is Important In Rehab

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Why Structure Is Important In Rehab

The structure is an arrangement of parts into an overall design, and it can refer to buildings, families, programs, and other organized systems. Life itself involves structures that might include work, school, family, hobbies, exercise and various other routines and responsibilities. Addiction can change a person’s daily structure as compulsions and cravings shift priorities toward obsessive alcohol- and drug-seeking behavior. Healthy life structures generally break down, and the addict often experiences job loss, strained relationships and other undesirable consequences. As a part of rehabilitation, the structure is reintroduced into addicts’ lives to help foster lasting recovery.

The Role of Structure in Rehab

Structure in rehab is a prescribed course of action designed to maximize treatment, and it can include numerous potential elements, including the following:

  • Individual and group counseling sessions
  • Set times to wake up, go to sleep and eat
  • Activities that promote social interaction
  • Physical fitness and personal hygiene routines
  • Holistic pursuits like meditation and yoga
  • Opportunities to explore new hobbies or interests
  • The chance to assume new responsibilities

The structure may vary significantly, however, depending on the type of treatment employed. As described by the New York Times in 2014, recovering addicts typically receive either residential inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, which involves the following:

Why Structure Is Important In Rehab
  • Outpatient programs are part-time and provide more freedom of movement
  • Such patients bear more responsibility for following structured routines
  • Residential programs involve full-time treatment in a more structured environment
  • Patients in full-time care benefit from more accountability and detailed routines

People in outpatient care can help themselves by establishing structure in their lives outside the treatment facility. Prescribed routines can include set times for work, house cleaning, exercise, reading inspirational material or even keeping a daily recovery journal or blog. Residential inpatient care, however, is often recommended for people who lack sufficient structure in their lives. The Substance Use & Misuse journal published a study in 1985 that examined addicts with multiple issues (e.g., illegal activities, mental health disorders) and emphasized their need for structured treatment programs.

The Benefits of Structure in Rehab

Structure helps provide stability, focus, familiarity, clarity, comfort and a sense of purpose, and it minimizes potential relapse triggers like wandering thoughts, loneliness, anxiety and boredom. During the early stages of recovery, there are several specific benefits to structure that can include the following:

  • Structure makes the treatment more productive and reduces patient procrastination
  • Overall plans make treatment seem more manageable and recovery more achievable
  • Set sleep routines help reduce insomnia, which is a common issue for recovering addicts
  • Exercise routines help patients with poor physical health caused by the substance abuse
  • The structure is a guide with smaller goals that, when reached, can help build self-esteem

The structure also helps patients develop a framework that they can apply to their daily lives when the primary treatment period ends. As in rehab, the structure needs to be an important part of the aftercare plan.

Structure After Addiction Treatment

The Addictive Behaviors journal in 2007 and the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2009 are among the many professional publications to highlight a recovering addict’s need for social support and structure. Rehab centers help patients design structured routines, but there are foundational activities that are essential, including the following:

  • Find a local recovery support group and regularly attend meetings
  • Participate in a 12-Step program or other defined course of action
  • Connect with a recovery sponsor who can provide guidance and support
  • Develop a support network of family, friends and recovery partners
  • Get the support network involved in the recovery routines and structure
  • Participate in aftercare counseling if needed or advised by the rehab center

There are several other recommendations that recovering addicts should consider, including the following:

  • Create a weekly plan of scheduled activities that help reduce the risk of boredom
  • Develop balanced routines that promote physical, mental and spiritual health
  • Be willing to adapt routines to include positive new interests and hobbies
  • Makes changes if the routine begins to cause stress, anxiety or anger
  • Prioritize basic recovery principles as a core part of any overall structure

There are also negative routines that recovering addicts need to avoid, including the following:

  • Social interactions in bars or with people who still abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Places, people, music, movies and activities associated with the substance abuse
  • Spending extended time with people who elicit negative or stressful emotions
  • Finding an addiction substitute that also produces obsessive behavior

Both in rehab and aftercare recovery, structure provides people with a positive tool that encourages physical, mental and social healing. Some addicts may have struggled with structure in the past, but adopting it now provides a foundation that can help them in all areas of their lives, including the recovery.

Addiction Help Center

Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to provide information about rehab facilities and treatment. We can answer questions about structure, and we can even check health insurance policies for rehab benefits. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now.

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